The United States military has plans to take the beautiful island of Pagan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and use it as a live-fire training range. This will include full-spectrum weapons deployment: Aircraft gunnery, bombing, rocketry, missile delivery, strafing and mine laying, tank fighting, beach landings with amphibious craft and more. It will not only deprive the people of the Marianas of the use of their own land, it will destroy it. This is in addition to their plans to raise the level of live-fire and greatly increase the live-fire areas of Tinian island, which means bringing weapons such as mortars, howitzers, artillary, high explosive munitions and anti-tank weapons closer to the 3,000 islanders who live there. Help us stop this!
You can read the Department of the Navy’s CNMI Joint Military Training Requirements and Siting Study here. It is clear that Pagan—like our island of Farallon de Medinilla, which the Navy has been bombing for 30 years—will no longer be inhabitable due to the unexploded ordinance. The beautiful beaches will be torn apart. The damage from rockets, missiles, bombs and mines will forever change the landscape of this indescribably beautiful place.
It is ironic that the reasons the study sites for making the island suitable for military use are the same reasons why Pagan is valuable for the people of the CNMI as a home and for eco and cultural tourism. The study describes the island as having no permanent inhabitants. This is not true. There is a Pagan community waiting on Saipan for the chance to go home. They visit Pagan every chance they get and stay as long as they can. The only hurtle stopping their permanent residency is the lack of investment funding for basic infrastructure—a tiny fraction of the expense that the US government would spend to transform Pagan into a target for destruction.
To the Chamorro and Refaluwasch people, the impact of destroying Pagan is like the heartache most Americans would suffer from the destruction of Yosemite National Park. The needless, terrible waste of one of the most beautiful, beloved places in the world should be stopped.